The drive along the coastal route is spectacular and about 18 km north of the Lotus Tower on the beach in the center of the city. Most of the road is brand new and it has two lanes in each direction plus almost no traffic. The inland route is about 12 km but it’s crowded with other motorbikes, buses, and trucks that are headed out of town.
Once you are getting close you’ll want to look to your right for a large dragon decoration that towers over the entrance. It’s impossible to miss even if you aren’t paying close attention. Drive down the ramp and the motorbike parking area is past the ticket office to your right. If someone is there you’ll have to pay 2,000 dong (10 cents) to park, and they’ll give you a claim ticket as a receipt.
Organized bus tours also arrive periodically so the ferry and the landing area are quite large even though few individual travelers are there at any given time. There’s a big restaurant overlooking the water with good food and reasonable prices, plus various other snack and souvenir stands.
You’ll see signs for the ticket office, and the ferry leaves every 30 minutes from 9:30am to 4:00pm.
Ferry ticket price: 50,000 dong ($2.50) round-trip, including all the attractions on the island.
The ferry is a bit slow so it’ll take close to 20 minutes to get out to the island.
Once the ferry pulls up you’ll walk down the new concrete pier and you’ll be on your own. Turn left after you pass through the gazebo and you’ll walk down a long trail that will eventually lead you to the main monkey feeding and observing area. If you turn right once you get to the main cluster of buildings before reaching the feeding area you’ll be walking toward the little show arena.
As mentioned, the shows take place shortly after the large tour groups arrive, three times per day, and if you are on one of those tours you’ll have about 10 minutes in the feeding area right after the show before you’re hustled off to your boat again.
The most popular thing to feed the monkeys is corn, which is sold for 4,000 dong per bag at a little shop nearby. Unfortunately, this is exactly the same stuff the monkeys are fed when there is no one around so they aren’t too thrilled by the stuff. Strangely enough, there are no bananas to be found, though I’m sure the monkeys would be thrilled if you brought some of your own.
There's a snack stand between the main feeding area and the go-kart track, and for prices starting around 12,000 dong (60 cents) you can buy various cookies and cakes and other things the monkey really like and will go crazy over. They’ll gladly eat the corn but they don’t show much enthusiasm so the cookies are the keys to their little hearts and stomachs.
If you are there as part of a group then you can feed any one of dozens of monkeys that will come up near you, but if you are there on your own or as part of a small group then you’ll notice an interesting phenomenon. When the monkeys see only one source of food then the “king monkey” will sit himself in front of the food source and then try to eat every bit of it. If you toss something to another monkey then the king monkey will race over to try to take it away. This pecking order is obviously based on many fights that took place when no guests were around.
If you buy some snacks and you wave them around then one or more of them will sneak up on you to attempt to swipe the bag from you. They won't attack you and they aren't known for stealing sunglasses or other things to hold hostage like at other monkey places elsewhere, but they will try to get the food from you if you aren't careful.
The best part of it is a small island with a mote surrounding it that looks like it could be part of an elaborate miniature golf course. If you are there around midday then you’ll likely see loads of monkeys, including many of the babies, climbing up into the overhanging trees and then jumping into the water, over and over again, just for the refreshment of it. It’s damn cute.
If you are there at 10am, 2pm, or 3:20pm, you’ll be able to take in the show for no additional charge. It starts out with trained dogs doing some cute things and then transitions to about 15 minutes of monkey tricks.
There’s balancing and other things you’ve probably seen before, but the highlight is probably when each monkey climbs aboard their own little bicycle and rides around in circles for a while as a big group. It’s even more adorable than it sounds.
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